Da'Quan Bowers has 4.5 sacks in his first two NFL seasons, but coach Greg Schiano is expecting much more in 2013.
Speaking to the media at the NFL owners meeting Wednesday, Schiano said he expects Bowers to reach double digits in sacks.
“He has to,’’ Schiano said.
It may seem like Schiano is putting a lot of pressure on Bowers. But I don’t see anything wrong with that. When the Bucs let Michael Bennett leave via free agency, it was a very clear sign that the team has big plans for Bowers and Adrian Clayborn.
The Bucs drafted Clayborn in the first round in 2011 and Bowers in the second. Both have dealt with injuries early in their careers, but they should be healthy heading into the 2013 season.
It’s time for the Bucs to start getting some big returns on those draft picks. Clayborn had a strong rookie season before suffering a season-ending injury early last year. The Bucs brought Bowers along slowly as a rookie and he missed the first half of last season while recovering from an Achilles injury.
Clayborn showed enough as a rookie to make it look like he’ll be a solid all-around defensive end for a long time. But Bowers is the wild card and he actually could have more upside than Clayborn.
Once upon a time, he was being talked about as the potential first overall pick in the 2011 draft. But a knee condition dropped his stock. The Bucs took a shot on him in the second round, where the risk wasn’t all that high.
Now it’s time for the Bucs to get some reward out of Bowers.